Build Muscle with this at Home Workout
Building muscle is hard work. And building it without weights whilst stuck at home, is even harder. We’re not here to lie.
But that’s not to say it’s impossible, particularly for a beginner who can experience quicker adaptations and faster gains.
If you’re stuck at home with limited space and eager to maintain or build on the strength you’ve amassed from so far, then here’s the best exercises you can do with your bodyweight to build up muscle. And the way in which you need to to do them.
Progressive Overload (HomeAload)
Forcing your body to adapt to certain stimuli is how you achieve the results you want. If you run 5k twice a week for 3 weeks, you’ll find your body has changed to adapt and cope with the new stimuli it’s experiencing.
People often think that in order to build muscle you need to be in a gym and constantly adding more weight to your lifts. But this isn’t true.
You can force these adaptations with changes to rest times between exercises, volume and adding new exercises to your routine.
As an example, if you did 100 press ups every two days for 5 years, you’re going to get an initial response from your musculoskeletal system and it’ll build new muscle, you’ll also experience adaptations within your cardiovascular system building endurance.
6 months in, you’ll find that your body has adapted to these 100 press ups. And your body has built muscle and can easily handle this volume (number of press ups), resistance (weight applied when doing the press up) and training frequency (number of times you are training). In order to progress, you need to be spending 1 week doing 100 press ups. Then 1 week doing 105, the next week going to 110 and so on. To speed up the process, you can do 100 press ups within a 2 minute period, then 1 minute 45 seconds.
The point is, whether you have an empty gym to yourself, or just yourself, you can force these adaptations with the correct stimuli and approach. Coupled with switching up the stimuli you give your body, you’ll find you can build muscle and strength quicker.
This is the key principle behind building up strength at home in a terraced house in Leeds and with little to no equipment.
Hypertrophy at Home
The process of building muscle is called hypertrophy, and is the response of the body to exercise. It occurs in 3 different ways; Mechanical tension, metabolic stress and microtrauma.
Mechanical tension is when you apply enough resistance to a muscle that it causes the body to respond by building muscle. You can do this at home by slowing down the downward part of a bodyweight squat or push up. The aim is to feel the muscle working, engaged and tense.
Metabolic stress is the burn you feel during exercise. This is a build up of waste products in the muscle from exercise. Your body reacts by triggering hormonal and growth factor reactions to account for the stress its under. Leading to new muscle growth.
Microtrauma is the small tears to muscle tissue that occur after resistance training. The best way to trigger this when you’re lacking equipment is to try new movements and exercises to cause this. It doesn’t have to always be weights, it can be caused by running, swimming or dancing even. For home workouts, look at variants of push ups, squats and lunges to help trigger this.
Tips on Building Muscle at Home
- Increase Reps / Decrease Rest
To achieve hypertrophy with bodyweight, it’s important to keep reps high and rest time short. Keep muscles stressed and working to trigger adaptations. Focus on proper form and squeezing muscles with each movement.
Look at rep ranges of around 20-30 and rest times of 30 seconds to 1 minute. Depending on the difficulty of the movement.
- Switch to unilateral exercises
By performing movements that are one sided or variants that require less stability you’re essentially increasing resistance and adding more weight to your workout. As an example, you could do 10 pistol squats on each side rather than 20 normal squats.
- Perform holds and slow down movements
Keeping your muscle under tension will add more metabolic stress and in turn increase chances of hypertrophy. Hold a push up at the lowest point. Or slowly lower yourself during a squat.
Upper Body Bodyweight Workout
We’ve included a pull up bar in this workout. Pull ups are a great way to trigger hypertrophy and build up strength. Bars that hook into your house door frame are available for very cheap online, so if you’re running an at home workout it’s worth picking one up. You might also consider resistance bands to help increase reps and decrease the time to failure with your pull ups and variations.
Rest times need to be kept to 30 seconds to one minute unless otherwise specified.
8 Sets – 20 per set
Notes: Squat fully until your hamstrings touch your calves. Slowly move through the movement. 40 seconds rest after each set.
Mountain Climber Push Up
4 Sets – 15, 10, 10, 5
Notes: Bring your alternating knee to elbow as chest is moving to the floor. Once you’ve done a set, perform pull ups immediately.
4 Sets – 10, 8, 8, 8
Notes: Use resistance band if required. Keep your core stable and engage the lats. Head back to mountain climber push up after 1 minute rest.
5 Sets – 20
Notes: Sorry about this one. Drop down to hands on the floor in push up position. Jump feet back into a press up. On upward movement of press up explode into the air reaching both arms overhead.
5 Sets – 15, 10, 10, 8, 8
Notes: Sit on a chair and put your hands on the edge. Put your feet out in front of you resting on your heels and move your bum off the chair so the weight is in your upper body. Lower yourself with your arms and move back up.
Notes: 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest. Lie on floor with arms stretched overhead. Bring arms straight up to toes to form a v shape. Keep core tight.
5 Sets – 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Notes: Palms facing towards face, hands shoulder width apart.
5 Sets, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Notes: Carefully squat down on one leg, with the other leg straight out in front. Maintain a neutral spine and keep chin up with eyes fixed forward.
Single Arm Bag Raises
4 Sets – 10, 8, 8, 8
Notes: Load up a rucksack or carrier bag (or kettlebell) with a reasonably challenging weight. Start with holding the back down at the front of your leg. Raise up your hand with a straight arm until it’s horizontal with the floor. Don’t lock out elbows, keep tension in the shoulder.
10 Sets – 1 Minute
Notes: Hanging out maaaaaan. Relax the body and try hold on with grip and an engaged core and upper body.
10 Sets, 20 Reps
Notes: FINISH HIM, try and complete as fast as possible. Do not get up until all 200 are done. Or you’ve hit complete failure.